The number of foodborne outbreaks in Austria was stable in 2021 but more people were sick in them compared to the year before, according to recently published statistics.

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) reported 20 outbreaks this past year compared to 21 in 2020. However, 92 people were affected in 2021 and 67 in 2020.

Overall, 27 people had to be hospitalized in 2021 compared to 17 in 2020 and there were two deaths as opposed to one in 2020.

Salmonella was the most common agent with nine outbreaks and 61 cases. The second was Campylobacter with six outbreaks and 12 patients, followed by four outbreaks from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) with 14 cases, and one because of Listeria monocytogenes with five sick people and two deaths.

The largest outbreak was caused by monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium, in which 31 people fell ill and 10 had to be hospitalized. A connection to various meals in a restaurant and animals in the attached petting zoo was established.

One incident was part of an international outbreak caused by Salmonella Braenderup in Galia melons from Honduras. In Austria, 11 people were affected and seven were hospitalized.

Two deaths in Listeria outbreak
In the outbreak of listeriosis, five people became infected after eating meat products from a slaughterhouse and two of them died.

A two-person outbreak was caused by Campylobacter jejuni. The contaminated food was uncooked chicken meat from another European country.

Three outbreaks were acquired abroad, two by Salmonella Enteritidis, one after a stay in Romania but the other was unknown, and one by STEC after a trip to Turkey.

Outbreaks in which only members of a single home are affected are classed as household outbreaks. In 2021, 75 percent of all epidemics were classified as household outbreaks.

The number of outbreaks is still far below the 48 reported in 2019 when 793 people were sick with 159 hospitalizations and 52 in 2018 with 222 related illnesses and 58 hospitalizations.

It had been previously reported that the number of human isolates sent to the National Reference Centre for Salmonella increased from 906 in 2020 to 1,048 in 2021.

A total of 6,019 cases of campylobacteriosis were reported in Austria and 36 cases of invasive listeriosis were recorded with seven people dying within 28 days of diagnosis.

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